That is the mantra of our times. It’s often the parting words between friends. Rarely do we hear, “God Bless, keep trusting God, or God is good…” Now, it’s “Stay safe!”
I suspect this is because of the pandemic times we live in. This expression seems caring and kind, but often it is really rooted in fear. Our minds have been programmed to think of self-preservation first and foremost.
In reality, there really is no way to stay safe in this world outside the protection of God.
There are many examples of Jesus’ disciples not really understanding who He really was. Sadly, we are often not much better. Even with 66 books in the Bible, 1189 chapters, 31,103 verses and 807,361 words – all of it inspired of the Holy Spirit – we are often not comforted by its message. Doubt and fear still plague most Christians.
There’s a story in Matthew 14 of how Jesus finished a day of teaching. He concluded this fantastic day by feeding every one who was there – about 5000 men plus their families. Jesus fed them all with 5 loaves and 2 small fish. That was not enough food to even feed the disciples and Jesus that night, let alone a multitude.
What a miracle! After this miracle, Jesus instructed His disciples to get in a boat and cross the lake while He went up on the hill to pray. Don’t you think He already knew what was coming? A sudden, vicious Kenesseret storm arose, and Jesus was nowhere to be found. They were so not safe- the boat was about to be swamped.
Then miraculously, Jesus came to them by the fastest way possible – walking on the water. If you read this story in Matthew, it says that they did not recognize Him. Was it because of the storm? Their fears? The darkness? They did not know it was Him till He spoke- “Be not afraid.”
Did you know that fear and anxiety can prevent us from recognizing Jesus? When we feel unsafe, we tend to panic and focus on ourselves and our situation.
Peter, always dramatic, reacted. “Wow, this is incredible! Jesus is walking on the water! Jesus, call me – invite me to come walk on the water too!” Jesus replied, “Come!” Peter climbed out of the boat and headed for Jesus. Again, so not safe! But in his euphoria, he took his eyes off Jesus for a moment, and down he went into the stormy sea. He began to sink. He stopped for just a moment to see his reality – the wind and waves still at full roar- and down he went.
“Help me Lord! I’m sinking!” Peter screamed. We often feel like that. We can call upon Jesus in those terrifying moments of panic. But He still walks on water! He enables faith-filled believers to follow His call to walk on water. To look at Him, to step out, and then to walk through the impossible with our eyes fixed on Him.
So how do we “stay safe?” Only one way: look at Jesus in all circumstances. Follow His instructions. Nothing is going to happen to you that He cannot control. It may be far beyond your control, but never beyond His.
There’s only one way to stay safe, now and in every situation – keep your eyes on Jesus, listen to what He says, move towards Him and trust Him. Don’t focus on the storm. You will not sink! He is there!